Lia's Bid For Win Number Two Falls Just A Little Short Running Second, Donny Gets The Bumper From Hirschman HUNTINGTON, NY (August 27, 2004) -- Donny Lia was especially driven to win Wednesday night at the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). The ...
Lia's Bid For Win Number Two Falls Just A Little Short
Running Second, Donny Gets The Bumper From Hirschman
HUNTINGTON, NY (August 27, 2004) -- Donny Lia was especially driven to win Wednesday night at the Stafford Motor Speedway (CT). The NASCAR Modified Series driver set winning at one of the Connecticut tracks on the schedule as one of his biggest goals earlier this season.
But that wasn't what motivated him the most. He wanted to win as a tribute to his fellow Long Island (NY) competitor Tom Baldwin, who passed away a week ago in a wreck at the Thompson Speedway (CT). Lia almost got the chance to pull into victory lane at Stafford to honor his fallen friend, but came just a little bit short.
Lia was in the middle of a three-car freight train battling for the lead with a handful of laps to go. He had fresher tires than lead Todd Szegedy and was setting up the pass when Lia's train was derailed by the #48 of Tony Hirschman. Slight contact was made between Lia and Hirschman in turn four and Lia went spinning through the infield. He nearly lost a lap, but did not lift off the throttle. Without the benefit of a caution for his incident, Lia still managed to come back and finish eighth.
"It was definitely a good run right up until there were six laps to go," said Lia. "At the time, I was just trying to see where I was better than the leader. I wanted to see what would work. I really drove it in there deep. I was trying to either get underneath Todd or set myself up for a run off of turn four. I skated up a little bit and before I could even get a chance to do anything, I got a shot in the right rear. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it; I definitely got hit. I thought that I had it saved, but around it went."
Lia did not know what the outcome of the race would have been if not for the spin, but he is certain it would have been a good battle for the victory.
"Szegedy was awesome to go as long as he did on those tires," said Lia. "He got loose right at the end. If I could have had a solid five laps to work him over, I think that I would have had something for him. We had a car that should have won the race, but Todd did an awesome job with what he had and we were running pretty even. It would have been a close race at the end."
Earlier in the night, Lia earned the pole position for the event, continuing his six-race streak of top-five qualifying runs. He drew the seventh position for the start of the race following the invert and during the pace laps, he held back and left an open spot on the track in tribute to the #7ny that Baldwin drove. It was an emotional sight for fans, crews and Lia.
"I was definitely thinking of Tommy for this race," said Lia. "I pictured his car right there. It meant a lot. I'm sure that I would have liked to have picked the pole, but given these circumstances, I would have picked seventh all night long. Seven was a good number."
Lia moved into the top five of the NASCAR Modified Series point standings after his finish. He is now only one point behind fourth-ranked Ted Christopher. Lia's #18 team was outside of the top fifteen in the middle of the summer and has been the hottest team in the series over the past half-dozen races. Lia thinks that this momentum will keep moving him forward.
"I still think that we can win this championship," said Lia. "The guys ahead of us might have a few problems and hopefully, we've gotten our bad luck out of the way."
The next race for the Lia Motorsports Inc. team will be to finish the remaining 140 laps of the postponed event at Thompson where Baldwin lost his life last week. The event has been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon and Lia is aware of the meaning of the race.
"We'll get them at Thompson," said Lia. "We came up a little short here, but I'm very determined to win that race over there on Sunday.
Donny Lia and his Lia Motorsports Inc. team are competing for the 2004 Championship in the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Series this season.